Faith Based Organizations and Homelessness

Posted: May 3, 2017

 A recent study by the Baylor University Institute for Religious Studies was conducted with the goal to provide an initial, and credible, estimate of the impact that faith based organizations (FBO’s) have in responding to homelessness across America. For the purpose of this study, A FBO is defined as an organization for which particular faith (e.g., Christian, Jewish, etc.) serves as the primary motivation to serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The findings came from eleven different cities all across the country. Overall, it became clear that FBOs are leading the way when it comes to addressing root causes of homelessness. This study shows that FBOs not only provide the most emergency shelter beds, but also provide innovative and long-term solutions.

The following are the key findings found: 

  • Almost 60% of the Emergency Shelter Beds, what many consider the ‘safety net of all safety nets’ for the homeless, are provided through faith-based organizations.
  • What government agencies and Public Policy makers see as the cause of homelessness, namely lack of housing, many FBOs see as a symptom of a deeper problem.
  • FBO homeless ministries are at the forefront of program innovation and organizational transformation for improving positive outcomes for the homeless individuals and families served.
  • Housing first policies do not always effectively engage with Faith-Based Organizations, especially congregation-based efforts that do not seek federal funding.
  • There are other FBOs serving homeless men and women, especially those struggling with addictions, which are operating “under the radar” and are not included in HUD’s HIC or the Point-In-Time (PIT) homeless count.
  • The program outcomes for successful participants from FBO Residential Recovery and Job Readiness programs in these eleven cities generate an estimated $119 million in taxpayer savings during the three years following program exit.

The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion concludes that Faith Based Organizations are leading the way when it comes to addressing the issues of homelessness. FBOs are doing more to innovate long-term solutions to address the problems.

Here at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County our mission has always been to provide love, hope, respect and a new beginning for the homeless, offering a holistic program of care that leads to true, lasting healing. We make it our goal to not only care for the physical needs of our clients, but the spiritual as well.

If you are interested in learning more about the methods used, or more detailed findings, please visit

Johnson, Byron, and William H. Wubbenhorst. "Assessing the Faith Based Response to Homelessness in America." , Baylor IRS.

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